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         17 January 2002

Mountains, which serve as vast reserves of valuable resources as well as key centres of culture and recreation, are among the world's most vulnerable bio-geographical areas. The rapid pace of globalization, urbanization and mass tourism is threatening mountain resources and communities as never before, with mountain areas worldwide facing increasing marginalization, economic decline and environmental degradation.

In an effort to increase international awareness about the global importance of mountain ecosystems, the United Nations General Assembly has designated the year 2002 as the International Year of Mountains.

To mark the start of International Year of Mountains 2002, the United Nations University (UNU), in close collaboration with the Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science at Hokkaido University (where the Secretariat of the International Year of Mountains 2002 Japan Committee is presently based) has organized the following activities. On Thursday, 31 January 2002, the UNU will host a public forum on "Mountains: Environment and Human Activities." This public forum, to be held in the U Thant International Conference Hall of the UN House from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., will feature lectures by Ms. Junko Tabei (Chairperson, Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan), Prof. Yugo Ono (Hokkaido University), and Prof. Jack D. Ives (UNU Senior Adviser, UNU Environment and Sustainable Development programme). The forum moderator will be Mr. Hatsuhisa Takashima (Director, UNIC, Tokyo). Simultaneous Japanese-English interpretation will be provided; see the attached programme for more information.

The public forum will be followed on Friday, 1 February 2002, by an "International Symposium on Conservation of Mountain Ecosystems." This symposium, which will be attended by Japanese and international mountain researchers and educators, government officials and representatives of non-government organizations, will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Elizabeth Rose Conference Hall of the UN House. A key aim of the event is to contribute to improved understanding of the status of different mountain systems in relation to global change, the pressures these mountains are exposed to (including their consequences on natural, human and economic resources), and the responses of indigenous social groups and mountain societies.

The core themes of the symposium will be (1) People in Mountains: Social and Livelihood Aspects, (2) Sustainability of Mountain Biodiversity and Natural Resources, and (3) Development of Japanese Mountain Studies. More than two dozen lecturers and panelists will share their expertise; see the attached programme for a complete list.

Running in conjunction with these events, in the UN Gallery at the UN House, will be the UNU Mountain Photograph Exhibit featuring photographs by Prof. Jack D. Ives. This exhibit, "Mountain Prospects: Images for the International Year of Mountains," will open on Friday, 25 January and run through Friday, 29 March. Prof. Ives has been involved with mountain research all his life, and has photographed mountains and mountain peoples and communities worldwide, including in the Himalya, Thailand, Tibet, Tajikistan, China, and the Andes. Images from the UNU Mountain Photograph Exhibit will be displayed online at Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the public forum, international symposium, and opening of the mountain photograph exhibit.

For more information, or to reserve a place at the public forum or symposium, please contact the UNU Public Affairs Section. For more information about the International Year of Mountains 2002 (IYM 2002), see the official IYM 2002 website and the IYM2002 Japan Committee website

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For further information please contact

UNU Public Affairs Section:
Tel. (03) 5467-1243, -1246; Fax (03) 3406-7346


The Delegation of the European Commission in Japan,
Press & Public Affairs Service: E. Reuter (Tel: 3239-0461),
D. Inoue (Tel.: 3239-0464) or M. Suetsune (Tel: 3239-0430)




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